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What Can Search Tell Us About Your Customers?

by steph woods on March 22, 2011

There is a lot of data we can collect and learn about customers based on what they are searching for. Given the amount of searches conducted every minute of the day there is a lot of data available.

  • Americans conduct 22.7 billion searches a month. (, June 2009)
  • Worldwide people search 131 billion times a month. (Which works out to 29 billion searches a minute.) (comScore 2010)

Search insights

Search can let your potential customers tell you what they are looking for. Instead of telling customers what products they should use and why; we can listen, learn and research to find out what your target audience is looking for and deliver what they need. This can be useful for new product development and insights, or, for improving current or existing products.

Excerpt from Vanessa Fox’s book Marketing in the Age of Google:

Historically, consumer data and industry trends haven’t been that easy to come by. Before launching a new product or feature, companies had to rely on expensive and time-consuming surveys and focus groups, and it often took awhile to gather enough feedback from these sources. Competitive and industry research was slow and expensive. But the abundance of search data has allowed all of that to change dramatically. We can see exactly what our customers want at a much larger scale than focus groups could ever provide, and competitive and industry data is just a click or two away. We can get immediate feedback about whether changes are working and see trends of consumer interest rising or falling before we invest in R & D.

If we combine searcher behaviour with what people are searching for (using keyword research) with why people are searching (using qualifiers like safe, reliable etc.) we can understand an audience better. We can also use tools like social listening to help us to understand the wants, needs, desires and language of potential customers.

We can also use keyword research and linguistics analysis to determine what keywords are the most popular based on search volume and what keywords have the most competitors. This helps to prioritize features and content on your website. It can also help to use the language your potential customers use. For example, people search for “mens shirts” and not “mens tops”. In this example it is better to use “men’s shirts” in your navigation over “men’s tops”. Listen, learn, research, repeat. There are a lot of insights just waiting to be discovered.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Oba April 22, 2011 at 6:37 pm

22.7 billion searches a month but 12 billion of those are from SEO’s and site owners obsessively checking the position of their sites. :)

steph woods April 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Ha! That’s so true.

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